Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 22nd 2018


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This edition of the Arabidopsis Research roundup beings with a study from SLCU that provides a molecular context to the changes that occur at graft junctions. Second is a study from Edinburgh that reports on the findings of a citizen science plant phenotyping project. Third are two studies from the John Innes Centre that follow-on from previous studies. These characterise the molecular response to seasonal transitions and the factors that control floral development.

The fifth paper is led by Chris Hawes at Oxford Brookes and characterises a novel sub-group of ER localized reticulon proteins. The next paper from the University of Sheffield looks at the whole plant response to changing global carbon dioxide concentrations. The seventh paper from Bristol and York also broadly looks at CO2 but this time at the molecular factors that control stomatal closure in response to both ABA and CO2 signals. Christine Foyer (Leeds) is a co-author on the penultimate paper that characterises the role of ascorbic acid in hormone signaling whilst the final paper from Julian Hibberd at the University of Cambridge analyses a regulatory element that contributes to the evolutionary transition to C4 photosynthesis.

Melnyk CW, Gabel A, Hardcastle TJ, Robinson S, Miyashima S, Grosse I, Meyerowitz EM (2018) Transcriptome dynamics at Arabidopsis graft junctions reveal an intertissue recognition mechanism that activates vascular regeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1718263115 Open Access
This research was led by Charles Melynk during this time working with Elliot Meyerowitz at SLCU. Grafting is an important classic and contemporary technique in plant biology and this study investigates the gene expression changes that occur on either side of a graft junction. They show asymmetry changes in gene expression on either side of a graft that include an increase in vascular initiation but only in grafted tissues and not in those that are cut and then separated. This study provides an exciting insight into the molecular changes that occur during tissue grafting.

Giuffrida MV, Chen F, Scharr H, Tsaftaris SA (2018) Citizen crowds and experts: observer variability in image-based plant phenotyping. Plant Methods. doi: 10.1186/s13007-018-0278-7 Open Access

This UK, German and Italian study is led by Sotirios Tsaftaris at the University of Edinburgh and reports on a fascinating citizen science study that evaluated the ability of experts and non-experts to use plant phenotyping software. They demonstrate that non-experts can be effectively involved in plant phenotyping annotation tasks given enough statistical power and if the study is suitably designed.

Hepworth J, Antoniou-Kourounioti RL, Bloomer RH, Selga C, Berggren K, Cox D, Collier Harris BR, Irwin JA, Holm S, Säll T,Howard M, Dean C (2018) Absence of warmth permits epigenetic memory of winter in Arabidopsis. Nat Commun. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03065-7 Open Access

Caroline Dean and Martin Howard (John Innes Centre) lead this study that further characterise the relationship between the VERNALIZATION INSENSITIVE3 (VIN3) an FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) genes in two separate thermosensory processes that monitor long term temperature changes. They suggest that the regulatory strategies currently employed by plants might become less effective as the climate becomes more variable and will have a knock-on effect on plant growth and productivity.

Simonini S, Stephenson P, Østergaard L (2018) A molecular framework controlling style morphology in Brassicaceae. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.158105 Open Access
Lars Ostergaard (John Innes Centre) leads this study that characterises how the activity of five transcription factors (TF) integrate with auxin signaling in the control of gynoecium development. The auxin response factor ETTIN is a central controller of this relationship across members of the Brassicaceae and that variation in an ETTIN sub-domain effects TF affinities, interaction strength and gynoecium morphology

Kriechbaumer V, Maneta-Peyret L, Fouillen L, Botchway SW, Upson J, Hughes L, Richardson J, Kittelmann M, Moreau P, Hawes C

The odd one out: Arabidopsis reticulon 20 does not bend ER membranes but has a role in lipid regulation. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20840-0

This study is led by Chris Hawes (Oxford Brookes) and continues his labs work on the plant ER. They are working on a subgroup of reticulons, which are ER membrane proteins, that have an extended N-terminal domain. Three members of this subgroup show different localisation patterns that indicates that along their sequences are similar they might play different cellular roles.

Williams A, Pétriacq P, Schwarzenbacher RE, Beerling DJ, Ton J (2018) Mechanisms of glacial-to-future atmospheric CO2 effects on plant immunity. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15018 Open Access
This article from the University of Sheffield uses Arabidopsis to investigate the impact that changing climatic CO2 concentrations might have on plant immunity. The authors performed a global analysis on the response to sub-ambient and elevated CO2 and found that both changes causes alterations to salicyclic acid or jasmonic acid response pathways. However these responses are not always opposite, revealing new insights in the response to changing CO2 concentrations.


Isner JC, Begum A, Nuehse T, Hetherington AM, Maathuis FJM (2018) KIN7 Kinase Regulates the Vacuolar TPK1 K+ Channel during Stomatal Closure. Curr Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.12.046.

This is collaborative work between the Universities of York and Bristol and analyses factors that control stomatal closure. They show the TPK1 vacuolar K+ channel is important for ABA and CO2 mediated closure and that the function of this protein is regulated by the KIN7 receptor-like kinase. These activities result in potassium release from the vacuole leading to osmotic changes that contribute to stomatal closure.

Caviglia M, Mazorra Morales LM, Concellón A, Gergoff Grozeff GE, Wilson M, Foyer CH, Bartoli CG (2018) Ethylene signaling triggered by low concentrations of ascorbic acid regulates biomass accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Free Radic Biol Med. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2018.01.032

Christine Foyer (University of Leeds) is a co-author on this research showing that a defect in ascorbic acid production leads to elevated levels of the hormone ethylene as well as having a wider impact on the control of growth-mediating hormone signalling. This result indicates that the cellular redox buffer AA is a significant contributor to hormone signalling pathways.

Reyna-Llorens I, Burgess SJ, Reeves G, Singh P, Stevenson SR, Williams BP, Stanley S, Hibberd JM (2018) Ancient duons may underpin spatial patterning of gene expression in C4 leaves.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1720576115

Julian Hibberd (University of Cambridge) is the corresponding author on this study that is part of his labs overarching aim of discovering what is necessary to transfer C4 photosynthesis into C3 plants. As part of this work they are searching for master regulator sequences that have allowed for the multiple independent evolution of C4 photosynthesis. They have identified a regulatory duon that is a pair of cis-elements located in coding sequences of genes preferentially expressed in bundle sheath cells of C4 leaves and are also present in C3 plants and algae. Therefore they discuss how C4 plants have co-opted these regulatory elements and how it might be exploited in future molecular engineering projects.

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